At some point in a conversation, you may have been told the phrase: “That comes from China, you know.” Agriculture? Invented in China. Mixed martial arts? Originates from a little temple in the woods — in China. Farmville? Yup, China again.
Well, there’s something else that comes from China — pollution. Long a health hazard to Mainland residents and attributed behind the high numbers of lung cancer in Guangzhou, it turns out that the other byproduct of an economic boom besides a high GDP now has severe international implications.
The deadly rainstorm that rocked the PRD may be an example of more extreme weather to come. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) states that air pollution originating from major Asian cities like smog-ridden Bejing may be influencing weather patterns around the world, reports the BBC.
Yuan Wang, a member of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology and lead author of the study, said air pollutants from China blow to the north Pacific where they cause clouds to grow denser. In this way, more intense storms are created above the ocean and lead to extreme weather conditions elsewhere in the world.
Furthermore, Chinese pollution is also directly influencing air quality throughout other parts of the world. The Smithsonian reported that between 12 and 24 percent of the sulfate-based air pollution in circulation over the Western U.S. originally came from China.
But China is the gifter that keeps on giving: it isn’t just air pollution through which China is influencing international weather patterns, but water pollution that is making the mouth of the Pearl River Delta blush a crimson red.
Sewage from the Chinese mainland is giving rise to “red tides” in Hong Kong harbor, the SCMP reported. The Pearl River is said to be the origin of red tides along with Mirs Bay to the east. Phosphates and nitrates commonly found in mainland city waste water serve as nutrients for the algal blooms, allowing it to prosper in the right conditions.
Explained Professor Ho Kin-chung, dean of the Open University’s school of science and technology:
“The economic boom across the border leads to more sewage discharge into the sea and rivers, and in the right seasons [the nutrients] come down to us. So this is no longer a local phenomenon but a regional one.”
So as local problems grow into regional problems, and then regional problems grow into international problems, we wonder what will be the next thing influenced by Chinese pollution. For all we know, it could be smog threatening national security of neighboring states by obscuring security cameras, or the international proliferation of noise pollution by line dancing middle-aged ayi’s.